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MIN@CLE: Salazar holds Twins to three, fans seven

Danny Salazar will start for the Indians in the rubber match as Cleveland looks to take the road series at Rogers Centre on Thursday. The Tribe won the second game of the series, 15-4, on Wednesday, one day after dropping the opener, 5-4.

The 24-year-old Salazar is 1-3 so far this season, and he will be making his first start since May 7.

Before this season started, Salazar was told there might be times he is given extra days of rest in order to keep other starters on their regular schedules. Such a situation came up this week for the three-game series in Toronto.

In doing so, the Indians were able to keep Justin Masterson (Tuesday's starter) and Corey Kluber (Wednesday) on a normal five-day schedule.

"I've got some extra days to work on things that I need to work on," Salazar said on Tuesday. "I think that's fine. They told me that sometimes, if we have a day off like that, especially with Masterson, they might move me. It doesn't bother me."

He'll oppose J.A. Happ, who's making his third start after beginning the season on the disabled list and making three appearances out of the bullpen. Happ lasted 2 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Angels, and allowed seven hits and four earned runs. He had a particularly difficult second, giving up three runs and five hits in that inning alone.

"You try to pitch and you try to execute, and it was certainly frustrating today, not being as sharp as I'd like," he said after the loss.

Salazar, meanwhile, has shown improvement recently. After going 0-3 through his first four starts, he's 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in his last three.

Manager Terry Francona said his young righty has become more efficient with his pitches.

"His pitch count has been up the whole time, it's just not been seven innings. I think there's definitely a transition from last year," he said. "There's no getting around it. He was on a really tight limit, for good reason. But I think it's a little different, especially doing it at this level."

Indians: Axford's step forward

The Tribe temporarily pulled John Axford out of the closer's role on Saturday due to his struggles this season with command. In his first appearance since receiving that news, Axford turned in a one-two-three inning with two groundouts and one strikeout against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. The right-hander needed only 10 pitches to get through the inning.

"It was a real good inning," Francona said. "For the most part, when he commands, he's really good. He's got good stuff. He's got a big breaking ball that, when he can work ahead in the count, he gets some chase on the breaking ball.

"He's run into some outings where, because of maybe walking or not throwing strikes, he's had to work out of binds or got himself into some trouble. The more he throws strikes, he's going to be just fine."

Blue Jays: Navarro on bereavement list

The Blue Jays recalled Erik Kratz from Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday after Dioner Navarro was placed on the bereavement/family medical emergency list.

Navarro will be gone for a few days, during which Kratz and Josh Thole will share catching duties, manager John Gibbons said.

Navarro, who's batting .276 with one home run and 16 RBIs, is permitted to be away from the club for between three and seven days while on personal leave.

"We'll see who's pitching," Gibbons said of which catcher will play which days. "Thole has been pretty good at the plate, and Kratz has been pretty good too."

Worth noting

• The Indians have had their share of inconsistencies on offense this season, but the club remains one of baseball's top teams at controlling the strike zone. Over the past two seasons, Cleveland ranks second to only Tampa Bay in the Majors with a 27.8-percent swing rate at pitches outside the strike zone. Entering Wednesday, the Indians ranked third in the league with 4.01 pitches per plate appearance this year.

• Switch-hitting first baseman Nick Swisher has the most experience among Cleveland's hitters when it comes to facing Happ. In 10 career plate appearances against the Blue Jays lefty, Swisher has hit .286 (2-for-7) with one home run and three walks.

• The Blue Jays allowed 15 runs and 22 hits on Wednesday. It was the first time that's happened since June 24, 2004 against Tampa Bay, when they gave up 19 runs and 24 hits.

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